HOUSTON – Michelle Gaiser, the woman accused of hiring a hit man to kill the socialite wife of her former lover, Bellaire attorney Jeffrey Stern, pleaded guilty Friday to solicitation of capital murder. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Up until last week, Gaiser was supposed to testify against Stern in exchange for a 25-year sentence.
But on Tuesday, the solicitation of capital murder charges against Stern were dropped.
The complicated case centers around an alleged plot to kill Yvonne Stern in 2010.
Investigators said there were three attempts on the socialite’s life that year. The first two failed altogether, but in the third attempted hit, Yvonne Stern was shot in the stomach.
After the shooting, she filed for divorce from Jeffrey Stern, but it was never finalized. Yvonne Stern has since reunited with her husband and has stood by him during all of the court proceedings.
She’s maintained that he had nothing to do with the alleged plot on her life.
But in court Friday, it seemed that only prosecutors were happy with Gaiser's 20-year sentence.
Yvonne Stern and her attorney were upset, as were the attorneys representing Gaiser. Even Quanell X chimed in to say how unfair he though the plea deal was.
In an emotional victim’s impact statement, Yvonne Stern begged for a stiffer sentence and accused prosecutors of coddling her attacker.
Outside the courtroom, her attorney said they believe District Attorney Pat Lykos is friends with Gaiser’s attorney, and that the DA’s Office cut her a sweetheart deal.
"Having lived this case for two years and knowing what type of truly despicable character Michelle Gaiser is, I’m completely offended that the District Attorney’s Office would sell out to that degree," attorney Chip Lewis said.
Gaiser’s attorney, for his part, bristled at those accusations.
"I’m totally outraged that they would suggest that. They need to look in their own closets before they start pointing fingers in that direction, because they know that is totally not true. Judge Lykos and I have never had a discussion about a plea bargain in this case," attorney James Stafford said.
Even though Gaiser wrote a jailhouse letter plotting to kill Jeffrey Stern, her attorneys insist she was powerless to carry it out and was very cooperative with prosecutors.
In the letter, Gaiser reportedly wrote that Jeffrey Stern’s death should be made to look like a "robbery gone bad." Yvonne Stern’s attorneys said it also included a hand-drawn map of Jeffrey Stern’s day-to-day routine.
"Obviously, a close-range shot didn’t get rid of the wife, so you have to finish elsewhere to finish it ... A knife in the neck, get the carotid artery, and it’s over," the letter reportedly read.
In a statement released Friday, prosecutors explained the plea deal, saying:
"A jury eventually gave the gunman a 20-year sentence. Miss Gaiser is receiving an equally harsh 20-year sentence, as well as a conviction that will eventually result in her deportation."
Gaiser is from the Philippines. Her plea deal protects her from further prosecution in this case, but not from a civil suit filed by Yvonne Stern, claiming emotional distress and assault.
Lewis said Yvonne Stern and her husband plan to donate any money they might win from that case, and that they’re only seeking justice.